(CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that the newly formed Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Forensic Dive Team is now available to help Ohio law enforcement agencies recover criminal evidence in water.
"BCI's investigative capacity will no longer be limited to the water's edge," said Attorney General DeWine. "Criminals may run, but we hope they'll no longer be able to hide evidence used in their crimes in the water. The Dive Team is really an extension of our BCI Crime Scene Unit. Now, we have the capability to go after criminal evidence anywhere."
Attorney General DeWine attended a team training exercise at the Circleville Twin Quarries today, observing members of the BCI Forensic Dive Team. The team is available to assist any hour of the day to recover any criminal evidence located in water such as human remains, weapons, clothing, or tools. The team, however, is not a search and rescue team and will not rescue people stranded in water or recover bodies of suicide victims.
Members of the BCI Forensic Dive Team have been training since January for what is often a dangerous job in dark water with zero visibility. When asked for assistance by any Ohio law enforcement agency, BCI's Forensic Dive Team members will search the water, identify and document evidence, and properly recover the evidence as well. Any item recovered would then be sent to the BCI Laboratory for analysis.
The team will also work closely with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to assist in their investigations of crimes such as illegal underwater tire or barrel dumps. Those investigations will include an Ohio EPA diver.
"With the expertise of the dive team, we have the ability to uncover evidence of environmental crimes that are obscured under water," said Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally.
The BCI Forensic Dive Team will also conduct research experiments involving underwater evidence preservation.
"With professional evidence collection and work of our lab, we hope to advance the science of underwater evidence collection and processing," said Stephen Schumaker, Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement.
The BCI Forensic Dive Team is part of BCI's Investigations Division, which opened 1,463 criminal cases during the last fiscal year, conducting investigations for 422 law enforcement agencies in all 88 counties.
NOTE: Underwater video of the BCI Forensic Dive Team is available for media outlets. Please call 614-466-3840 to acquire footage.
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Jill Del Greco: 614-466-3840